Terek, Caucasia - Encyclopedia

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TEREK, a province of Russian Caucasia, situated N. of the Caucasus chain. It is bounded by the government of Stavropol on the N., by the Caspian Sea and Daghestan on the E., by Tiflis and Kutais on the S., and by the Black Sea district and the province of Kuban on the W., and has an area of 23,531 sq. m. From Mount Elbruz to Kasbek the southern boundary coincides with the main range of the Caucasus, and thus includes some of its highest peaks; further east it follows a sinuous line so as to enclose the secondary chains and their ramifications.

Nearly one-third of the area is occupied by hilly tracts, the remainder being undulating and flat land belonging to the depression of the Terek; one-half of this last, on' the left bank of the river, is occupied by sandy deserts, salt clay steppes, and arid stretches unsuited for cultivation. The Caucasus Mountains are described under that heading. Tertiary formations, overlain by Quaternary deposits, cover a wide area in the prairies and steppes. Mineral springs occur near Pyatigorsk.

The climate is continental. The mean annual temperatures are 49.6° Fahr. at Pyatigorsk (1680 ft. above the sea; January 39°, July 70°) and 47.7° at Vladikavkaz (2345 ft.; January 23°, July 69°), but frosts a few degrees below zero are not uncommon. The mountain slopes receive an abundance of rain (37 in.), but the steppes suffer much from drought (rainfall between 10 and 20 in.). Nearly the whole of the government belongs to the drainage area of the river Terek, but the north-west corner is drained by the upper tributaries of the Kuma. In the lower part of its course the Terek flows at a higher level than that of the neighbouring plains, and is kept in its bed by embankments. Nevertheless inundations are frequent and cause great destruction.

The estimated population in 1906 was 1,044,800. The province is divided into seven districts, the chief towns of which are Vladikavkaz, Groznyi, Kizlyar, Nalchik, Pyatigorsk, Sunzhinsk and Khasavyurt, the last two being nomad centres of administration. Agriculture has developed greatly on the prairies, the area under crops being 9 per cent. of the total. Rye, wheat, oats, barley and potatoes are the principal crops. The vine is very extensively cultivated, especially in the districts of Kizlyar and Pyatigorsk, where 1,500,000 gallons of wine are made annually. Live-stock breeding is widely engaged in, and fishing is an important source of income, especially at the mouth of the Terek. Bees are generally kept, and yield every year nearly half a million sterling worth of honey and wax. Melons, cucumbers and sunflowers are extensively grown. The railway, which formerly stopped at Vladikavkaz, has been continued from the Beslan station, near Vladikavkaz, to Petrovsk on the Caspian Sea, and thence to Baku.

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